Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 season, per a league announcement. This means that Burfict has lost his appeal to overturn his ban for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Burfict is no stranger to suspensions, but this marks his first ban for PEDs. In the past, Burfict has been sidelined for violations of league safety rules. Between injuries and suspensions, Burfict has missed 28 regular season games over the past four years. That tally will climb to at least 32 this year.
Despite it all, Burfict remains one of the very best linebackers in the NFL. In 2017, Burfict managed 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in ten games.
In theory, the suspension could have financial implications for Burfict beyond the missed paychecks. Now that he has lost his appeal, the guarantees in his three-year, $33MM contract will void. With that $11.3MM guarantee off the books, the Bengals have the ability to move on from Burfict without dead money left on the cap. The 27-year-old (28 in September) is slated to be under contract with the team through 2020.
Although he is out for the first four games of the year, Burfict will be permitted to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. This marks the third consecutive year in which Burfict will serve a suspension to start the season.
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